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Lakes Regional Healthcare partners with Avera Health

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa — Lakes Regional Healthcare (LRH) Board of Trustees recently voted to enter into an affiliation agreement with Avera Health.

0 Talk about it

“For the past 18 months, we have been evaluating the possibility of partnering with a larger health system. We felt that affiliation could improve continuity of care for all patients, decrease costs for patients and Lakes Regional Healthcare overall, and ultimately better position us for the changes that are occurring in the health care industry as reform initiatives advance,” said LRH President and CEO Jason Harrington.

The decision to enter into the agreement was preceded by a 60-day period, during which LRH had several “town hall” meetings with staff and the community to discuss this relationship and answer any questions. The presentation is available for public view on YouTube.

LRH took a step in this direction a year ago by forming a partnership with the two local family practice clinics, Avera Medical Group Lakes Family Practice and Avera Medical Group Spirit Lake Medical Center. That partnership has strategically positioned the hospital to better improve the delivery of health care for individual patients and the community in the past year.

Harrington said, “This larger partnership will provide opportunity for even greater integration between the clinics, the hospital, and other Avera locations.”

The affiliation agreement means that Lakes Regional Healthcare pays Avera a fee for a given set of services. LRH will retain its own board, and all decisions regarding the hospital will remain with the local board. All employees will remain employees of the local hospital. Benefits and other terms of employment will remain consistent with current practices.

Some advantages of the partnership include the ability to tap into the strength of the Avera system, assistance with physician recruitment, and cost-savings opportunities on expenses such as capital equipment, malpractice insurance, and supply purchases.

LRH’s board also voted to move forward with the electronic medical record system also used by Avera as part of the agreement. This system will help the local hospital meet future federal requirements, and will improve efficiency and patient safety.

 “We expect the conversion to the new system to ‘go live’ on May 1, 2014,” said LRH Chief Financial Officer Steve Alger.

“Lakes Regional Healthcare is a strong and progressive health care organization that we are proud to welcome into the Avera family,” said Curt Hohman, senior vice president for managed facilities at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center. “We at Avera look forward to partnering with them to serve the residents of the Lakes area with the excellent level of hospital care they have already come to expect through Lakes Regional Healthcare.”